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Monday 11 Mar 2024
NI Player Watch | A first for Balmer

AFC Wimbledon defender Kofi Balmer scored his first senior goal in English football as the EFL League Two side kept alive their play-off hopes with a 2-0 victory over Notts County at the weekend. 

The former Ballymena United and Larne stopper, who is currently on loan at the London-based outfit from Premier League side Crystal Palace, headed home a corner five minutes from time to secure the crucial win which now leaves the Dons just a point off the play-off positions in League Two.

Another defender, Eoin Toal, scored a dramatic late equaliser for injury-stricken Bolton Wanderers as they secured a point in their 2-2 draw at Exeter City.

The 25-year-old headed home an 87th minute cross to chalk up his fourth goal of the season for the visitors who were again without top scorer Dion Charles who has been ruled out of action for an unspecified period after aggravating a knee injury.

In the Premier League Jonny Evans received a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd after being substituted in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday.

The 36-year-old, who was signed on a season-long deal by United boss Erik ten Hag last summer, was again a calming influence on an injury-ravaged backline as the Red Devils kept alive their slim hopes of a top-four finish this term.

In his post-match press conference, the United manager admitted he had been impressed by the former Champions League winner’s performances this season.

He said: “We are so pleased we signed the fifth centre back because normally you say ‘why five centre backs in the squad?’ But you see, we are so happy we did this.

“As you see, his performance across the season, he’s such an important player for this squad. He will always be there when he’s needed and give good performances.”

It was also a good weekend for Northern Ireland Under-21 goalkeeper Dermot Mee who made the Manchester United matchday squad for the first time.

Twenty-year-old Conor Bradley faced arguably his toughest test yet in a Liverpool shirt when he started the top of the table clash with Manchester City, but he passed with flying colours before being substituted just after the hour mark of the thrilling 1-1 draw at Anfield.

In the Women’s Championship it was a landmark day for Northern Ireland keeper Jackie Burns who returned to Reading’s first team squad as an unused substitute after missing the last 11 months with an ACL injury.

With the international break fast approaching several players are currently struggling with injury.

Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was missing from the AGF Aarhus team after sustaining a broken nose last week.

Elsewhere Inverness Caley’s on-loan midfielder Sean McAllister was absent because of a thigh strain and the influential Dan Ballard was substituted after picking up a suspected hamstring complaint in Sunderland’s 4-2 loss at Southampton.

“Dan tried his hardest obviously to carry on,” said Sunderland’s interim head coach Mike Dodds. “Unfortunately he couldn’t, he is now strapped up and we will have to see where we are on Monday with him.”

Another injury concern is 20-year-old winger Ross McCausland who, after coming on as a replacement for Dujon Sterling in the first half, was substituted 20 minutes into the second period of Rangers’ 2-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final success at Hibernian.

In League One, Ethan Galbraith, who has mostly been operating as a right back this season, was red carded in Leyton Orient’s single goal defeat at Wigan Athletic who had both Jordan Jones and Josh Magennis in their starting line-up.

Finally, in the U18 Premier League, there were goals for Liverpool winger Kieran Morrison, his 11th of the campaign, and also former Linfield attacking midfielder Cole Brannigan in Aston Villa’s 4-2 home defeat to West Ham United.